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Victory passes back and forth between men.

Homer (Ancient Greek: Ὅμηρος) was an ancient Greek poet.


The Iliad (c. 7th century BC)[edit]

This section uses the translation by Richmond Lattimore (1951). Full text online as translated by Samuel Butler
  • The will of Zeus was accomplished.
    • I.5
  • Speech sweeter than honey flowed from his tongue.
    • I. 249 (trans. W. A. Falconer)
  • Then looking at him darkly resourceful Odysseus spoke to him: "What is this word that broke through the fence of your teeth, Atreides?"
    • IV. 350-351
  • As is the generation of leaves, so is that of humanity. The wind scatters the leaves on the ground, but the live timber burgeons with leaves again in the season of spring returning. So one generation of men will grow while another dies.
    • VI. 146-150
  • So they spoke, and both springing down from behind their horses gripped each other's hands and exchanged the promise of friendship; but Zeus the son of Kronos stole away the wits of Glaukos who exchanged with Diomedes the son of Tydeus armour of gold for bronze, for nine oxen's worth the worth of a hundred.
    • VI.232-236
  • Victory passes back and forth between men.
    • VI.339
    • Paris contemplates the fickleness of victory as he prepares to go into battle.
  • Man, supposing you and I, escaping this battle, would be able to live on forever, ageless, immortal, so neither would I myself go on fighting in the foremost, nor would I urge you into the fighting where men win glory. But now, seeing that the spirits of death stand close about us in their thousands, no man can turn aside or escape them, let us go on and win glory for ourselves, or yield it to others.
    • XII.322-328 (Sarpedon to Glaukos)
  • οὐ μὲν γάρ τί πού ἐστιν ὀϊζυρώτερον ἀνδρὸς
    πάντων, ὅσσά τε γαῖαν ἔπι πνείει τε καὶ ἕρπει.
    • Among all creatures that breathe on earth and crawl on it there is not anywhere a thing more dismal than man is.
    • XVII.446-447 (Zeus)
  • I have gone through what no other mortal on earth has gone through; I put my lips to the hands of the man who has killed my children.
    • XXIV.505-506 (Priam to Achilleus)
  • And you, old sir, we are told you prospered once.
    • XXIV.543 (Achilleus to Priam)

The Odyssey (c. 7th century BC)[edit]

  • Ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, Μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ
    πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσε·
    πολλῶν δ’ ἀνθρώπων ἴδεν ἄστεα καὶ νόον ἔγνω,
    πολλὰ δ’ ὅ γ’ ἐν πόντῳ πάθεν ἄλγεα ὃν κατὰ θυμόν,
    ἀρνύμενος ἥν τε ψυχὴν καὶ νόστον ἑταίρων.
    ἀλλ' οὐδ' ὧς ἑτάρους ἐρρύσατο, ἱέμενός περ·
    αὐτῶν γὰρ σφετέρῃσιν ἀτασθαλίῃσιν ὄλοντο,
    νήπιοι, οἳ κατὰ βοῦς Ὑπερίονος Ἠελίοιο
    ἤσθιον· αὐτὰρ ὁ τοῖσιν ἀφείλετο νόστιμον ἦμαρ.
    τῶν ἁμόθεν γε, θεά, θύγατερ Διός, εἰπὲ καὶ ἡμῖν.
    • The man for wisdom's various arts renown'd,
      Long exercised in woes, O Muse! resound;
      Who, when his arms had wrought the destined fall
      Of sacred Troy, and razed her heaven-built wall,
      Wandering from clime to clime, observant stray'd,
      Their manners noted, and their states survey'd,
      On stormy seas unnumber'd toils he bore,
      Safe with his friends to gain his natal shore:
      Vain toils! their impious folly dared to prey
      On herds devoted to the god of day;
      The god vindictive doom'd them never more
      (Ah, men unbless'd!) to touch that natal shore.
      Oh, snatch some portion of these acts from fate,
      Celestial Muse! and to our world relate.
    • Book I, lines 1–10 (translated by Alexander Pope).
  • ταῦτα θεῶν ἐν γούνασι κεῖται.
    • This thing the gods in their own knees do keep.
    • Book I, line 267 (translated by P. S. Worsley).
  • Τηλέμαχ', ἄλλα μὲν αὐτὸς ἐνὶ φρεσὶ σῇσι νοήσεις,
    ἄλλα δὲ καὶ δαίμων ὑποθήσεται.
    • Telemachus, thine own mind will conceive
      Somewhat, and other will a god suggest.
    • Book III, lines 26–7 (Worsley).
  • Νεμεσσῶμαί γε μὲν οὐδὲν
    κλαίειν, ὅς κε θάνῃσι βροτῶν καὶ πότμον ἐπίσπῃ.
    τοῦτό νυ καὶ γέρας οἶον ὀϊζυροῖσι βροτοῖσι,
    κείρασθαί τε κόμην βαλέειν τ' ἀπὸ δάκρυ παρειῶν.
    • Nor can I not bewail one fall'n in death severe.
      'Tis the sole boon to wretched mortals given,
      The lock to sever and the tear to shed.
    • Book IV, line 195 (Worsley).
  • θεοὶ δέ τε πάντα ἴσασιν.
    • The gods know all things.
    • Book IV, line 468.
  • Ζεὺς δ' αὐτὸς νέμει ὄλβον Ὀλύμπιος ἀνθρώποισιν,
    ἐσθλοῖσ' ἠδὲ κακοῖσιν, ὅπως ἐθέλῃσιν, ἑκάστῳ·
    • Zeus both to good and evil doth divide
      Wealth as he listeth.
    • Book VI, line 188 (Worsley).
  • The best thing in the world [is] a strong house held in serenity where man and wife agree.
  • Δειλαί τοι δειλῶν γε καὶ ἐγγύαι ἐγγυάασθαι.
    • A rogue's word was ever found
      Poor voucher.
    • Book VIII, line 351 (Worsley).
  • Νεκύων ἀμενηνὰ κάρηνα.
    • The fleeting shadows of the dead.
    • Book X, line 521 (translated by G. A. Schomberg).
  • Μή μ' ἄκλαυτον ἄθαπτον ἰὼν ὄπιθεν καταλείπειν
    • His cold remains all naked to the sky,
      On distant shores unwept, unburied lie.
    • Book XI, lines 72–3 (Pope).
  • Rather I'd choose laboriously to bear
    A weight of woes, and breathe the vital air,
    A slave to some poor hind that toils for bread,
    Than reign the sceptred monarch of the dead.
    • Book XI, lines 489–492 (Pope).
    • Cf. Worsley's translation:
      Rather would I, in the sun's warmth divine,
      Serve a poor churl who drags his days in grief,
      Than the whole lordship of the dead were mine.
  •                  The enormous weight
    Back to the nether plain rolled tumbling down.
    • Book XI, line 598 (Worsley).
  • Most grievous of all deaths it is to die of hunger.
    • Book XII, line 342, cited in T. B. Harbottle, Dictionary of Quotations (1897), p. 409.
  • I'd sooner die outright, beneath the waves o'erwhelmed,
    Than on this desert island slowly waste away.
    • Book XII, line 350 (Worsley), as reported in Harbottle's Dictionary of Quotations (1897), p. 340.
  • The wordy tale, once told, were hard to tell again.
    • Book XII, line 452 (Worsley).
  • O friend, I dare not, though a worse man sought
    These doors, a stranger use discourteously.
    All strangers and all poor by Zeus are brought;
    Sweet is our gift, yet small.
    • Book XIV, lines 56–9 (Worsley).
  • I speak for glory, since by wine made bold
    Often to singing even the wise will fall,
    Light laughter and the dance, nor can withhold
    Words that in sooth were better far untold.
    • Book XIV, lines 463–6 (Worsley).
  • Μή νύ τι σεῦ ἀέκητι δόμων ἐκ κτῆμα φέρηται.
    οἶσθα γὰρ οἷος θυμὸς ἐνὶ στήθεσσι γυναικός·
    κείνου βούλεται οἶκον ὀφέλλειν, ὅς κεν ὀπυίῃ,
    παίδων δὲ προτέρων καὶ κουριδίοιο φίλοιο
    οὐκέτι μέμνηται τεθνηότος οὐδὲ μεταλλᾷ.
    •          Watch, lest in thy despite
      Some fair possession from thy home he get:
      Since, well thou knowest, a woman's soul is set
      His house to prosper whom she chance to wed.
      Linked to another she discards all debt
      Due to the children of her former bed,
      Nor thinks at all of him, her dear-loved husband dead.
    • Book XV, lines 19–23 (Worsley).
  • ἶσόν τοι κακόν ἐσθ', ὅς τ' οὐκ ἐθέλοντα νέεσθαι
    ξεῖνον ἐποτρύνῃ καὶ ὃς ἐσσύμενον κατερύκῃ.
    • He to my mind an equal sin doth show
      Who, when a guest would linger, hints good-bye,
      And who, if one desire to part, says no.
    • Book XV, lines 72–3 (Worsley).
  • For now the nights move slowly and scarce end;
    Yea, there is room for slumber, and to keep
    Watch, and a listening ear to sweet words lend.
    Needs not at all unto thy couch to creep
    For some while yet. Harm comes from even too much sleep.
    • Book XV, lines 392–4 (Worsley).
  • But we two, drinking wine and eating bread,
    Will charm our dear hearts each with other's pain.
    Past sorrow, and the tears a man hath shed,
    Who far hath wandered over earth and main,
    Yield comfort.
    • Book XV, lines 898–902 (Worsley).
  • See how God ever like with like doth pair,
    And still the worthless doth the worthless lead!
    • Book XVII, line 217 (Worsley).
  • Bad herdsmen waste the flocks which thou hast left behind.
    • Book XVII, line 246 (Worsley).
  • Servants, when their lords no longer sway,
    Their minds no more to righteous courses bend.
    • Book XVII, line 320 (Worsley).
  • Half that man's virtue doth Zeus take away,
    Whom he surrenders to the servile day.
    • Book XVII, line 322–3 (Worsley).
  • Shame is no comrade for the poor, I weet.
    • Book XVII, line 347 (Worsley).
  • Steel itself oft lures a man to fight.
  • Two diverse gates there are of bodiless dreams,
    These of sawn ivory, and those of horn.
    Such dreams as issue where the ivory gleams
    Fly without fate, and turn our hopes to scorn.
    But dreams which issue through the burnished horn,
    What man soe'er beholds them on his bed,
    These work with virtue and of truth are born.
    • Book XIX, lines 662–6 (Worsley).
  • Then the gods send us their refreshful sleep,
    Which good and evil from our mind doth sweep.
    • Book XX, line 85 (Worsley).
  • Smiled from the heart a fell sardonic smile.
    • Book XX, line 301 (Worsley).

Quotes about Homer[edit]

  • But how did you come to have this skill about Homer only, and not about Hesiod or the other poets? Does not Homer speak of the same themes which all other poets handle? Is not war his great argument? and does he not speak of human society and of intercourse of men, good and bad, skilled and unskilled, and of the gods conversing with one another and with mankind, and about what happens in heaven and in the world below, and the generations of gods and heroes? Are not these the themes of which Homer sings?
  • Indignor quandoque bonus dormitat Homerus.
    I'm aggrieved when sometimes even excellent Homer nods.
  • In the Odyssey one may liken Homer to the setting sun, of which the grandeur remains without the intensity.
  • Seven cities warred for Homer, being dead,
    Who, living, had no roof to shroud his head.
  • As learned commentators view
    In Homer more than Homer knew.
  • Our author’s work is a wild paradise, where, if we cannot see all the beauties so distinctly as in an ordered garden, it is only because the number of them is infinitely greater. It is like a copious nursery, which contains the seeds and first productions of every kind, out of which those who followed him have but selected some particular plants, each according to his fancy, to cultivate and beautify. If some things are too luxuriant it is owing to the richness of the soil; and if others are not arrived to perfection or maturity, it is only because they are overrun and oppressed by those of a stronger nature.
  • Oft in one wide expanse had I been told
    That deep-browed Homer ruled as his demesne;
    Yet never did I breathe its pure serene
    Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
    Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
    When a new planet swims into his ken.
  • It is ordinarily only a single work, or a single suite of works, which stamps the individual artist as a classic poet, artist, and so on. The same individual may have produces a great many different things, none of which stands in any relation to the classic. Homer has, for example, written a Batrachomyomachia, but this poem has not made him classic or immortal. To say that this is due to the insignificance of the subject is foolish, since the classic depends on perfect balance. If everything that determines a production as classic were to be found solely in the creative artist, then everything produced by him would have to be a classic, in a since similar to, though higher than, that in which bees always produce uniform kind of cells. To explain this by saying that he was more successful on the one case than the other, would be to explain exactly nothing. For, partly, it would be only a pretentious tautology, which only too often in life enjoys the honor of being regarded as an answer; partly, considered as an answer, it lies in another relativity than the one concerning which our question was asked. For it tells us nothing about the relation between form and content, and at best could be taken into account in connection with an inquiry into the formative activity alone.

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